I’m sure everybody likes the heartwarming experience of sitting in front of a lit fireplace, with the flames cracking and a comfortable heat coming through. Still, I’m pretty sure nobody loves a fireplace in such an intense way as my grandfather does. He just loves to watch flames consume one piece of wood after the other from a safe distance, and sometimes I suspect he organizes a lot of family dinners during the winter just to have the chance to spend the after-dinner watching his beloved flames.
As much as I’m never going to beat him on this, I feel a similar attraction to under-control flames, and at times it has shown so much that my mother began making jokes about it. I never denied her accusations, but I added that I’ll never reach my grandpa’s level of fascination in the flames because there’s something fascinating me even more: the flowing of the water.
Be it a waterfall to be stared at in awe (or photographed with a long exposure setting), be it the waves crashing on the beach on a stormy day, I know I could stay hours and hours enjoying the show and I’d never get bored. The feeling of something restlessly moving, the peace I feel in observing its eternal motion. A situation I like to describe through the words written by someone wiser (and a better singer/musician than me):
Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm.Depeche Mode
And so I like to sit down in silence, and from a safe distance. Sometimes I try to take pictures, but none of them, beautiful as it may turn out, never captures the totality of feelings running through me as I sit there.
A common misconception people have about me is that I don’t like the sea, even though I was born less than two hundred meters away from the beach and I’ve spent my entire life very close to it. It’s not true, because I actually love it, but I just can’t enjoy it the way it deserves to when it’s too hot and there are too many people around. It’s like if they broke the connection I feel with such power of nature when I’m on my own. Not to mention the fact that during Autumn and Winter it’s more likely to see big waves crashing on the shore.
I’ve never spent too much time trying to figure out why, and I’ve always thought that I just love the idea of something always on the move (even if it’s a continuous back and forth), or always transforming itself as the flames do in a fireplace. But maybe it’s not so simple: there is something else that fascinates me so much about water and about the fire. I could lose myself in front of a calm pool of water, or in front of embers, or a fire almost extinguished.
In some sense, it reminds me of life itself: things keep changing right in front of our eyes, it doesn’t matter how fast it happens because in any case there’s nothing we can do to stop them. We can just observe the world changing or dive down and flow with it*.
*Of course, I only recommend it in case of water. Fire is best observed from a comfortable place at a safe distance.